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January 2027 - Part 3

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So this is the line-up that is going to take me into my first game managing the gunners. There seems to be a fair amount of talent on show here so I really do hope we can make it pay and start shifting ourselves up the league. I do have one major concern though which I will come to in a moment...

Leno: The German shot-stopper has continued his role uninterrupted for nearly ten years now and he's been doing it well. There's no need to change anything here!

Meret Payal: This young Turk was brought into the club from Caen in 2024. He's stepped up to first-choice keeping captain Bellerin out the side. It's not up to him to keep it that way.

Saliba: The french centre-half has been one of the club's best performers this season and I certainly look forward to seeing that carrying on!

Adarabioyo: This is the Englishman's third season at the club after a few at Fulham and one at Wolves. His average rating has grown season-on-season throughout his career so I hope that I'm taking him through a real peak.

Cucurella: The Spainiard has moved around a bit - Barcelona, Getafe and Juventus are his previous clubs. This is his second season in the capital and he's done ok but I'll want him to do better.

Partey: The new signing is still here. He has become the heartbeat of midfield and performed consistently well across his spell here.

Kartsev: The Israeli was brought in 2021 and, after a couple of years on loan, has grown into a regular starting role with club.

Lammers: This is the Dutchman's first season for Arsenal after having scored for fun for AZ. I hope he carries it on and helps to haul us up the league.

Fekir: Despite being linked here, there and everywhere, the frenchman has played out most of his career for Betis. This is his first season here and has delievered five assists so far. I look forward to him getting a few more!

Pepe: Still here, still going. He has now 36 goals in 188 games for the gunners. I'm looking forward to him running the left flank and getting some good crosses in.

Nketiah: The club's top goal-scorer and my potential problem. I certainly have no complaints about the 15 goals he's got so far this season. However, I learnt on the last game that my tactic seemed to work best with a big man up front and Nketiah ain't it. I have Origi on the bench who fits the bill better but he's already off to Roma. Let's see if I can make my tactic work for the in-form striker.

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So I only have one game left this month. Norwich are down in 17th place but the worry is that I'm only just closer to the bottom European place than I am to them. We really are in the middle of the middle at the moment!

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January 2027 Part 4!

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So we only had the one game which was against Norwich (Pepe 90+6). I really wanted to get the win to kick us on our way but we the best we could do to muck things up by conceding within the first minute! We went on to dominate the game but it looked like we were going to come away with nothing until we won a pen in the last few seconds of the game and Pepe stuck it away. Well we're up and running - just!

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So we've slipped one place to thirteenth - three points from tenth and eight points from seventh. Let's have a look at who's coming up in the next month.

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The month kicks off with a cup game against Newcastle and I really want to push hard in both cup competitions that we're still in. In terms of the league, we face Leicester, Swansea and Derby who are below us before taking on Wolves who are presently third. Can we kick on and get going towards what we want to achieve!

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February 2027

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Now why did I think this job would be a good idea?! It's certainly been anyhting but a straight-forward month to get me going. I was pretty pleased with the Newcastle (Adarabioyo 12, Fekir 41, Nketiah 45+2, Origi 90+2). We dominated the game and seemed to score for fun even if a lot of it was coming from set pieces but I wasn't going to complain with progress in the cup. Next up in the league was Leicester (Lammers 32). They absolutely outclassed us all game and we just about staggered away with a draw - they deserved far more from the game. Swansea (Lammers 48, 73) had lost fourteen in a row before playing us. We did everything we could to muck it up though - going down early and having Kartsev sent off for a horror challenge. We barely had time to breathe before playing Cardiff (Gabriel 32, Pepe 43, Nketiah 49, Lammers pen 79). We were playing a championship side but it felt good to get the win going into the month's last league game against Wolves (Martinelli 74, 90+7). This game really could have gone either way and for much of it, it looked like we were going to lose. However, bringing on Sakha who crossed like a dream and Martinelli who smashed them home turned it all round and gave us a dramatic win.

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So we finish the month where we started it. I really thought we could kick on and improve quickly with the talent in the team but we're struggling to get any sort of form together and I'm worried that Nketiah, as good as he is, really isn't going to suit my style of play. I think the challenge may well become keeping the job until the summer where I'll have chance to reshape the team in my image.

 

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The month kicks off with two huge games against Porto to see if we can progress towards our aim of winning the Europa League. Inbetween those, we face 8th place Southampton and 15th place Burnley. Derby County are 19th and they're followed by the small matters of the FA Cup QF and the North London Derby. If I'm to make anything of this job, I need to start making some headway - and fast!

 

 

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March 2027

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Well, if last month was nothing short of a disaster, it's been much more pleasing to see what this month has to offer! We started off against Porto (Saka 6, Origi 90+1). We took the lead early and they turned the game round but, with game coming to a finish, Fekir played a beauty of through-ball and Origi chipped the keeper to give us the draw. The month's league games began against Southampton (Musah 63, Saliba 72, Nketiah 90+2, Origi 90+3). The game was much closer than the final scoreline suggested. When they pulled it back to 2-1, I was worried but we saw it through. We then played the second leg against Porto (Adarabioyo 8, Origi 70). When Porto took the early lead, I feared the worst but a first goal from a Fekir corner and the second at the end of a great passing move gave us the win. Burnley (Saliba 55, Pepe 90+3). The first goal was a corner and the second came from a beauty of chip by Musah which Pepe smashed home. It felt like our first routine win. I thought the next game against Derby County (Gabriel 85) would also be a routine win but we wasted a hatful of chances before Gabriel smashed home a corner to give us all three points. Finally we played Bournemouth in an end-to-end cup tie. Bournemouth took their chances though cutting our defence apart for the past and then scoring an injury time corner to beat us.

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Even with the disappintment of crashing out the cup, our three league wins have seen a serious pick up in our table postion. We've got into the top-half for the first time since I took the job and we are only five points off the bottom European place too. The 100% league record also bags me manager of the month so that's a nice bonus too.

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Here's the reveal of our youth intake for this season. It doesn't look stunning if I'm honest. Meakin is the staff's pick for potential star so we'll see how he gets on. I'm still after than young Scot from Napoli if I can get hold of him too!

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Well another action-packed month awaits us. With the season coming to a close, the games are going to come thick and fast. It will be real challenge to manage fatigue through the month. There are a hat-trick of tough league games against 3rd, 6th and 4th. Tucked inbetween those far-from-standard games are the Europa League QFs against Athletic Club. Finally 11th place Leeds and 17th place Bournemouth round out the month. Revenge is on the cards in that last game there!

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April 2027

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Why, why oh why am I here?! There are times when you've just moved club and really wonder why you've bothered! Game one was against Liverpool (Origi 49, Pepe 87). Twice we lead and twice we were pulled back. Considering I was really expecting to get beat, it wouldn't have too bad to get a draw but I was still cross considering how late we took the lead. Next up was our first QF against Athletic (Fekir 24). When we took the lead and dominated the first half, I thought we were really doing well. But they took full control of the second half and came away with a first-leg lead to take home. Up next were Man Utd. We were eye-to-eye for the most of the game but they took two late goals in order to take the win. We then went out to Bilbao (Origi 28,39, Saka 61). When Origi gave us a two-goal lead (one on agg), I thought we were well on our way. We then let them score two setting it up for them to go through. Finally, Saka scored the goal the separated the teams and sent us on to the semi's. Up next was the North London Derby against Tottenham (Origi 75). We were totally outclassed throughout the game and, getting a late consolation, we were no-where near. In desperation, I tried a different formation against Leeds (Saka 90+2). It was what I'd used to get back into the Athletic game but it certainly didn't work here. We were two goals down in no time and really had to work hard to even get our consolation - worrying stuff indeed! The last game of the month was the first semi against Gladbach (Saka 39,41,45). We dominated the whole game and when we went in 3-0 up at half time, I thought we were in for a comfy ride. How wrong could I be! We do take a lead out to Germany but it's a slender one and they do have two away goals.

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The three straight league defeats and the draw have done nothing to help our league postion. However we are only four points off tenth with two games in hand. We're only 6 points off 7th with two games in hand two so that, with the Europa League Semi, means there's still plenty to play for in our last month.

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So we start off the month playing fourteenth-place Sheffield Utd and follow that up with our second semi against Gladbach. Newcastle, Bournemouth and Chelsea see out the month in league games so hopefully we can pick up some points there and gain some respectability.

 

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May 2027

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A tricky month with a wide range of results has been what we've had so it's hard to say how we feel about it all. Game one saw us play Sheffield United. We dominated the game before they beat Cucurella for a neat cut back and goal. We were at least eye-to-eye from then on but failed to get what we needed. Next up, we took on Gladbach (Saka 73). We again dominated the first half and failed to score. They hit us on the break to set it up for them to go through but Cucurella made amends and sent Saka through to score. Against Newcastle (Kartsev 48), we again again again dominated the game. Here, we scored just after the break but then they equalised and that was it - a frustrating draw. Finally, when playing Bournemouth (Origi 30, Martinelli 36, 54), we had something of an upturn. We bossed the games and got the goals to show for it. All three goals were rebound tap-ins but there was a fierce shot first for each one. Finally, we played Chelsea (Saliba 16). We were against the flow for the whole game. It looked like we were going to pinch the win but they equalised right at the death.

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So we finish the month in 13th place which does seem pretty grim. However, we were 19 points above 18th place and only 6 points off 7th place so I'm not sure that just looking at the place tells the whole story. I just hope that, with a bit of re-shaping (especially with a large chunk of the squad wanting to go for champ's league football) in the summer we can pull back into the serious business end. Now that the domestic business is done, there is just one more game to go...

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May 2027 Part 2

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It wasn't to be. We matched Spurs throughout the game but we just couldn't score to save our lives! Their first goal came from a shot from Lopez which played penalty box pinball and finished up with Bowen smashing it home. This was followed up later on by Bowen countering down our left, crossing for a neat one-two between Kane and Kluivert and the latter smashing the ball into the back of the net. Just to add to the heart break, we put in a big looping ball into the box in the 82nd minute and Nketiah headed home only for VAR to rule it out for offside.

On the plus side, my repuation has gone up 5% to 75% and the bar has gone green just for being the runner up and I've now got 3 2/3 stars to my name. So, while I'm tied to the club until the beginning of July due to my promise not to apply for other jobs, I hope from then on I can look for some seriously big offers to get some silverware to my name! PSG anyone?

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Posted (edited)

Season Review

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The overall XI for the season is pretty close to what I'd expect. The only player from my regular XI to miss out is Partey who took on the Hojbjerg role of clearing up in front of the defence in my games. Our goals conceded rank in 9th compared to 6th for goals scored so it's interesting to see the high rations for Saliba and Adarabioyo. Perhaps it's the full backs that I'll need to have a look at.

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It's interesting for me to see that Nketiah, despite being the club's top goal-scorer, failed to make it into the overall XI for the season. It's also interesting to see the crucial role that Fekir has played. The fact that he's 33 means I can't rely on him to do that forever so that will be a position for long-term review certainly.

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This is the budget available at the moment. I certainly have one position in mind for my close-season rebuild and I hope this will cover it. After that, it depends who goes out. About half the team want to leave if a big offer comes in for them so I'll have to manage them and their replacements if the offers come in.

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And this is what I'm working towards. This season, the club want to qualify for the Europa League. But, from the seaoson after that, they want to be back challenging for the title again! Depending upon how long I'm here, we're going to need to put in some serious work in the next two summers!

Edited by RaySunshine
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Posted (edited)

Pre-season

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Well it's certainly been a busy summer! I'll start with the outs; our budget changed quickly across the course of the summer. Up above, you'll see a healthy wage budget. That soon became -£181K and we had to ship out players quick. Lots have left on loan but the notable names - Loftus-Cheek and Pepe in particular - were sold in order to free up the wage bill and help me to match my vision objective of keeping the wage bill under control. Out of all the young loanees, Whittle has impressed and I hope that he'll do well and I'll fit him into the team in the future.

As far as the Ins go, the first two names were players with serious potential who had declared that they wouldn't sign new contracts at their clubs. Gustavo in particular looks good enough to hit the starting line-up and really impress in the league. After all, who can not want a diminutive Brazilian player. Sulistyo is the great Indonesian potential player; he's already an international regular and could go on to shine. Salvador was transfer-listed as he wouldn't sign a new and, at 18, already looks good enough to be part of the starting line-up. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there's Tapia in from Napoli. I knew that I needed a taller striker to lead the line. I was tempted to go back to Lazio and get Da Graca who'd done so well for me. However, Tapia looks like he has serious potential and is already good enough to lead the line. I just hope he comes up with the goods or I'll have to reconsider quickly.

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The top-two haven't changed and Simeone hasn't lost any money either. Van Dijk comes in though as player/assistant at Liverpool. It's rare to see staff with injuries. My wage of £45.5k means I'm on near double what I was last pre-season so let's hope they double again next year!

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Pre-season was pretty straight-forward but it's nice to see wins all across the board and only the one goal conceded. Most of the games were played using tiki-takka as well so I certainly intend to use that against weaker sides in the cup and see what level we can take it up to.

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So we're predicted to finish seventh and there's a fairly hefty gap between us and 6th place Everton that we're going to need to close for a start. The gap between us and fifth-place predicted Spurs is simply huge so it's going to fascinating to see if it really turns out just like that - I certainly hope we much, much better than the pundits think we will.

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Four league games and League Cup tie face us. Playing just-promoted West Ham is a pretty good start although that's made much harder by facing highly-fancied Chelsea soon after. Wolves are seen to be level-pegging with us and Leicester are thought to be finishing tenth but are also on the level-peg with us so it all looks likely to be a tough but informative month ahead!

Edited by RaySunshine
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August 2027

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Well, considering the less-than-straightforward nature of the games we had this month, I'm pretty pleased with the results overall. The season began at the London Stadium and a game against West Ham (Gabriel 7, Tapia 23, Martinelli 67). We started off with a goal from a corner and then our new signings combined - Gustavo sending a cross for Tapia to volley home off the bar. Tapia then turned provider for the third. Against Chelsea (Martinelli 32, Kartsev 55), I was in dreamland when we went two goals clear. However, they managed to pull it back to a draw with two goals late on. We had a tough, close game against Wolves. We edged it I felt but couldn't get the goal we needed to come away with maximum points. League Cup action saw us take on Cambridge (Lammers 78, 85). I tried the tiki-takka approach with a rotated side but we struggled to create much - even when they went down to ten men. The last game of the month saw us take on Leicester (Tapia 12, 30, Gustavo 14, Salvador 25). I was bowled over by our performance - Tapia struck twice ( a corner and close tap-in), Gusatvo went on a mazy run and finish and Salvador struck a 20-yard thunderbolt! It was a dream performance from the new boys!

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So month one sees us finish two places above where we expected to be and right in the mixer with all the sorts of teams that we want to be looking in the eye. Lets see if we can keep this up as the season moves on!

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It's not hard to see what the headline fixture is this month. I haven't beaten any of the big six sides yet so it would be good to change that as soon as possible. We're lucky to have what looks like a winable game in the cup but I won't be risking the tiki-takka in that one given how it killed our creativity with a rotated side.

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September 2027

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Well if I was pretty pleased with what August offered up, I was absolutely stunned by how we followed it up in September. Following the international break, we took on Man Utd (Tapia 5, 47). I was yet to beat a 'big six' club but two corner goals from Tapia combined with a solid clean sheet gave us the win. We followed this up with a game against West Brom (Fekir 5, Kartsev 15) and we took control through a superb free-kick from Fekir and an edge-of-the-box thunderbolt from Kartsev. In the cup, we took on Nottingham Forest (Lammers 15, Saliba 36, OG 62). It was a heavily-rotated side but, using our control possession, we dominated the game and line ourselves up a favourable tie against League One Plymouth. The final game of the month saw us play close rivals Everton (Bellerin 45+1). The game was exactly as close as we expected it to be and a super strike from captain Bellerin was just enough to hand us the win.

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At the end of September, the table makes pretty reading. We making an early go in the title race and, while I'm not expecting that to last, it's certainly nice to see ourselves four points into the top four and that gives me some that we could make a serious push for this as the season goes on. I want to keep the good start going for as long as possible and earn us some slack for later in the season if we can!

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The month can't start with a much higher-profile than the game against Spurs. As you can see, my former employers are currently third so, like the Man U game, a win here would be a serious marker for what we can expect this season. Leeds are 11th, Southampton 14th and Norwich 18th so again these need to be the sorts of games that we're banking points in if we want to make a serious European push. The other game of the month sees our League cup campaign carry on against Plymouth and I hope that a rotated side can deal comfortably with that game again.

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October 2027

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If was wondering why on Earth I'd taken this job on at the end of last season, the last couple of months have helped to assure me that there might be some serious reward in having done so! Game on saw us take on Tottenham (Gabriel 69). As well as being derby rivals, Spurs are also at the top end of the table so a win was vital. According to the xG, Spurs dominated the game throughout but a corner scored by stalwart Gabriel was enough to give us the three points. Against Leeds (Tapia 54, 70), Tapia showed his skills and his two second-half goals meant that, even when they got a late consolation, they weren't ever likely to get more. The run continued against Southampton (Martinelli 16, 58) where Martinelli smashed home two great headers either side of half time to contine our sparkling run. A completely-rotated XI played Plymouth (Nketiah 21, 62, pen 66) and it doesn't take a genius to work out who was doing all the damage there! Finally, we had a frustrating game against Norwich which was surprisingly even considering I thought it would give us a straight-forward three points.

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The table continues to look pretty good - I don't know what more I can say. We're still in the title race and are a healthy six points off fifth-place Liverpool. The board love me and all is well in the world... at the moment.

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15th, 16th and 12th face us in the next month which is shortened due to the international break. If we can bank this one, we really should be in a good place!

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November 2027

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Three games - three wins - in November - with us at the top of the table - feels like a serious title challenge could, just could be coming on here. It didn't look like it for much of the Sheffield United (Nketiah 90+1, Gustavo 90+2, Musah 90+5). We dominated the game throughout but it looked like we were going to throw it away when we let them slide Brewster through and take the lead. My team had other ideas in mind though and the superb-Gustavo took control, crossing for Nketiah before going on a mazy run and scoring himself! Against Middlesbrough (Tapia 2, Saliba 72), corners led the day with them providing both our goals. We gave ourselves a scare when Boro equalised but ultimately walked away with all three points. Finally, we took on Aston Villa (Gustavo 4, Tapia 17, Fekir 36, Martinelli 40). We had something of a scare when Gustavo went off injured but Collado took his place and went on the rampage - having a hand in the other three goals. The problem will be coping without Gustavo for most of the next month.

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Well here we are - a monthly update and we're top of the table. However, it's only because we're due to play Man City today so that could all change pretty quickly. Being seven points above Spurs in fifth is still a pretty amazing position to be in though and I look forward to taking that forward.

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Well there's rarely a dull month in English football and December isn't bucking that trend. In league terms, we're taking on fierce title rivals Man City before also facing Liverpool and Brighton who are both in the mixer at the top end. Bournemouth are 12th and Newcastle are 11th so I wouldn't view either of those games as a walk-over either. Chelsea are our opponents in the League Cup and we'll putting out a strong team. With no European fixtures, I believe we should be making a real go of it in the cups.

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December 2027

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The season so far has been an amazing run. It feels like this month has been the first stone in the road but there's still plenty of season to work it all out right. First up were title rivals Man City. They dominated the game and we really didn't get much of a look in. This led to our first defeat this season; it's only December though and we've still got plenty of time to go. Next up, we took on relegation-threatened Bournemouth (Martinelli 32, Tapia 90+5). Twice we were pegged back by the bottom-half side and twice we fought back - the second time in the last minute of the game to get us out of back-to-back defeats. I came into the Liverpool (Martinelli 15, Tapia 31, Saliba 80) with a fair amount of trepidation. I need not have worried however as we took Liverpool apart. The highlight of game was Martinelli's mazy run that gave us the first goal. In the cup, we played Chelsea (Nketiah 83). To say they battered us would be an understatement but we kept it at 0-0 for most of the game. Getting equal late on gave me some hope but Chelsea finished the game off to progress at our expense. Back in the league, we took on Brighton (Martinelli 89). We took complete control of the game throughout but somehow let them get a two goal lead. Despite Martinelli's effort, we couldn't level it up and left with our second league defeat of the season. Finally, Newcastle (Tapia 18, Martinelli 34, Gustavo pen. 76) rounded off the month. The highlight here was certainly Martinelli's effort - a mazy run finished through the defender's legs and past the keeper.

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Despite the month's tough going, our league place hasn't suffered too much. Man City have gained a six point lead on us now and I think it will take a serious effort to reign them back in by the end of the season but we're still five points clear of Liverpool so I'm hopeful that we can achieve a Champ's League place by the end of the season at least.

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January has a simply enormous fixture run in it and it's going to test our squad to the max. There are some postions where I have full confidence in the second-choice players but there are several where I don't and it's going to be interesting to see how that works out over the course of the month. Of course, the cup could throw even more games in assuming we progress past Newcastle which I really hope we will.

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January 2028

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With the number of games we got through, I'm going to need to write a small novel to cover this month! We started off against Newcastle (Adarabioyo 63) in the cup. They scored early and we really struggled to get into the game - a header from CB Adarbioyo was enough to give us another crack at the tie. We took on Chelsea (Martinelli 49) in the month's first league game. Despite them dominating comfortably, we stole the lead the second half - it didn't last though and they went on to get three points. Salvador also picked up a knock seeing him out for the forseeable. We returned to cup duty to play Newcastle (Saka 25 Nketiah 90+1). Tapia left us to take part in Olympic qualifying and we struggled. Twice Newcastle led and twice we pegged them back but we couldn't answer their extra-time goal. No win in three took us onto Wolves (Kartsev 12, 90, Nketiah 17, 90+5, Martinelli 19, 28, Adarabioyo 74). Before this game we lost Gustavo  so I was seriously worried but it turns out I had no need to be! We followed this form up in smashing Leicester (Gustavo 19, 34, Nketiah 32, Mousah 83) before two set plays beat West Ham (Martinelli pen 68, Adarabioyo 90+4). Our run of wins carried on against West Brom (Saliba 22, Kartsev 49) and we beat Everton (Martinelli 52, 66) to round out the month. Tapia was injured on international duty so hasn't played a minute since he left!

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That run of five wins in a row has helped us to increase our chances of Champs League qualification. Spurs do have a game in hand but, being seven points ahead of them, I'm hopeful that we can keep going and nab a top-four spot by the end of the season. Man City are only a point ahead of us but do have two games in hand. I really don't see anyone except them winning the title if I'm honest.

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The January transfer window saw us bring in two Brazillian youngsters on free transfers. Athos in particular looks like a real future star so it will be interesting to see how he progresses. The outs were mostly loans. I did cut off the sale of our sub keeper Tenas. It was £10 million that I simply couldn't turn down for someone who didn't play!

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There might only be three games next month but what games they are! The first two could really see us put on hand on a Champ's league place for next season or leave it open to real jeopardy. Leeds are tenth and, as ever, are always a potential banana skin.

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February 2028

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Well I said that February was a short month as far as games go and, with results like these, it can only be good thing! The month kicked off against Man Utd (Martinelli 58). They dominated the game but it didn't stop us taking the lead. They equalised and I thought that the points would be shared until they nabbed them all with an injury-time corner. To make matters worse, we lost super-star Gustavo for the next two - three months too! Next up were derby rivals Tottenham. This was an absolute horror-show, easily my worst result of the save. We simply didn't turn up and they demolished us at a canter. We finished the month against Leeds Utd (Fekir 2). When Fekir got us up and running through an early free-kick, I thought we were bound to win. We dominated the game but didn't score, let them come back in and we shared the points ... grrrr.

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So the month sees us finish in third. It's all getting really tight round about now and, while I'm pretty sure we'll get European football of some sort, I'm beginning to worry that we might lose that lucrative top-four spot. We need to pull our finger out and fast!

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Three games again next month and they are all bottom-half times. Surely, we must do better than we did last month? We really need to rake some points in and start to open that gap again. Come on Gunners - we can do it - I hope ...

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March 2028

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Another three game month follows the disaster that was February. Game one saw us take on Southampton. The game was tight all the way through and easily could have gone either way. They, however, nicked the goal in the 74th minute and our woeful form carried on. In the run up to the Norwich (Nketiah 15, Saka 59) game, we got the bad news that Martinelli was going to spend some time out injured. I need not have worried though as my second-choice wingers supplied both goals and we broke our winless run. I thought we were back to bad news when we went a goal down against Middlesbrough (Saka 54, Tapia 57). However, after my half-time hysterics, the Saka smashed one home off the bar and Tapia broke his goalless run after a nice 1-2.

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So, we carried on slipping down the table and are now in fourth place. It's still in our hands though as we have five points on Chelsea. We do have both Man City and Liverpool in our final run-in though so I hope Chelsea do us a favour and lose a few points along the way.

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A busy month awaits after our last two three-game specials. We have both Liverpool and Man City in our final run-in to spice things up too. I feel like we're going to really need to cash in on the month's other three games in order to emerge from this month in the place that want to be. I think our top-four place is right on the line with those two heavyweight games but let's see what we can do!

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April 2028

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Having looked at the results this month, it's pretty hard to say anything other than our slip-and-slide continues. The month began well when we took on Sheffield United (Saliba 45, Saka 63). Saliba's superb header from a Fekir corner and Saka smashing it into the near top corner gave us the three points. We headed up to Birmingham to play Aston Villa. It was a game of two halves; a long ball over the top was enough to see them score in the first half that they dominated but we couldn't do enough in the half we dominated to put the ball in the back of the net. Against Liverpool (Nketiah 88), we were totally out-classed. They took us apart at will and it really made me consider the need to get new full backs to compete with the very best. Finally, we took on Brighton (Martinelli 69). They scored in the first half and I thought we were on for a shock defeat that could really derail our top-four hopes but top-scorer Martinelli came up with the goods to get us back in.

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It's squeaky-bum time as a certain famous manager said. If we win all three of our remaining games, then a top-four place is ours by rights so by that standard, it's still in our own hands. However, with the form we're in and the fact that one of those games is against Man City, I think that three wins is going to be a tall order. I just hope that we can get two wins and that will do!

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Posted (edited)

May 2028

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And our season well and truly peters out. I thought that two wins would give us a decent chance of qualifying for the Champ's League. Little did I know that we wouldn't even get one! Game one against Bournemouth (Martinelli 45+2) saw us self-destruct when Salvador was sent off in the 31st minute. Against all the odds, we did grab a lead but couldn't hold it in the second half. It was a classic against Man City (Tapia 11, 58, Martinelli 15). We were always chasing from very early moments of the game. I was pleased with the way we chased though even if we couldn't keep them out. I've got to look at signing some full backs I think. The final game of the season saw us take on Newcastle (Tapia 16) and I hoped we could finish the season with a positive gloss - we didn't though. They scored early and bossed the game. We nabbed a goal and a point but finish the season with a run of six games without a win - worrying stuff.

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So our plunge continues and we end up 6th. To be fair, had I been offered this before the season began, I would not have been too disappointed but when we were as high as 2nd at one point, the way our season self-imploded is really worrying. I want to be managing in the Champ's League and really thought we were going to achieve that this season but our collapse leaves us short.

 

Edited by RaySunshine
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Season Review

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The seasons-best XI matches almost exactly the team that I played when all my first choices were fit. It's interesting to read my season review of last season where I mentioned that full backs were an area of concern. I think this season shows that I really should have done something about it - they came up short in the big games especially.

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I'm not surprised at all by the sweep of awards that Fekir took. He really shone throughout the season but - at the age of 34 - I do wonder how much longer I'll be able to rely on him for this level of form. Martinelli's goal-scoring form was pretty good and I hope that Tapia can really take that on and get 20+ if he's not taken out the team by internationals and injury next season.

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It's a fair budget that we have to work with and we certainly have a good chunk of wage available for bringing people in. I'm always wary though as returning loanees changed quickly what I thought was rosy picture this way last season!

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Here is our vision - the aim is to be top half next season working towards being the best of the rest in years to come. It's not too inspiring but also means I have something of a security blanket available. Can I get a move to somewhere a little more likely to land me trophies? Let's see...

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Pre-season

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It's been another busy pre-season and our biggest signing isn't even on there! The signing of 20yo RB Majola from Tornio was really part of my scheme to strengthen up the backline. This was followed by the signing of GK Dias to replace the retiring Leno and Cremer who was an amazing CB available on a free transfer. Galavan as a 90+ rated player available for almost nothing as his contract at Nacional was expiring and Golovin was brought in to strengthen the midfield - again a top quality player on a free. The squad was begninning to become aged and become bloated so I went for something of a clearout. Names like Lammers, Gabriel, Justin, Tierney and Collado were all part of this.

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We may have only gone up one place in the predicitons but our overall odds have dropped from 151 to 51 so that makes me feel a lot better. Southampton and Everton also have the same odds though so it looks like competition is going to fierce.

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Pre-season has been nothing too remarkable. In the first two games, I gave Leno 45 mins  as his final goodbyes. Other than that, not too much write home about yet. The eagle-eyed among you though will have noticed that I've not yet finished pre-season and that's because we're on the move again...

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England

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The biggest job in world football has come up - I'm the England manager! I decided to resign from the job as Arsenal manager immediately for two (maybe three reasons). Firstly, in reality, you would never be able to be the England manager alongside a club at the same time and secondly I've found international management much more fun if it's your total focus and not a distraction from your club job. Finally, I can't get the Spurs job while I'm the Arsenal boss and now I can!

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So the world rankings see us in fourth place. England got to the final of the 2024 World Cup and the QFs of the recent European Championship so let's see how we go from there!

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So my first games in the England job will be in the Nations' League Group A. We face Denmark and Slovenia so these should be winnable games for sure.

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8 hours ago, RaySunshine said:

The biggest job in world football has come up

This threw me off a bit as I believed you were going to take over Real Madrid :) Anyways, good luck in bringing it home :p 

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September 2028

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Here is my first England squad! The big call I made was to bring in James Black - a young RB who has become first choice at Spurs over the last couple of seasons. Tomori and Aarons were the two players to miss out. However, not long after the squad was announced, Mount picked up an injury and was swapped for Hudson-Odoi. I'll go through my first starting XI in more detail below.

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Ramsdale: Still at Sheffield United who have become Prem League stalwarts in FM-land. A high-quality keeper but acutally second-choice to newgen Samuel.

James: The Chelsea RB is now the England captain. An experienced head in the backline and I'm expecting him to do well.

Godfrey: Godfrey also remains at his current club and has become a national and international stalwart over the last few years.

Gomez: He has to compete for his place at Liverpool but, for England, he's one of the best there is.

Chilwell: Still at Chelsea but seeming to be past his prime. I'm not sure many high-quality replacements are around so this position could soon become a tricky one.

Skipp: Skipp made a £34 million pound move to Old Trafford in 2025 and has racked up a few trophies in the meantime.

Foden: £132 million pounds took Foden to Barca in 2026. He's yet to win any of the big trophies but time is on his side.

Greenwood: £129 million saw Greenwood take up residence in Paris and a collection of league titles comes with it too.

Brown: The newgen came through in the first season of the game at Wolves. £79 million has just taken him to Chelsea and his first season in the capital.

Sancho: In FM-land, it takes a long time for the golden boy to get to Old Trafford. £104 million to Chelsea in 2023, £172 million to Real in 2025 and £150 million to OT in 2027. He must be racking up one of the biggest transfer totals in football history!

Kane: A true one-club man. He's still playing for Spurs and has a pretty decent trophy cabinet to show for it including the 2022 World Cup. Can we win another or will he have hung up his boots by then?

England v Denmark, Nation's League A, 01.09.28

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As far as the job goes, you can't get a much better start than this one! A tap-in from Sancho was the first goal of my reign and James scored the highlight with his 18-yard thunderbolt. Seeing Thompson get his first England goal was a pretty good moment too.

Slovenia v England, Nation's League A, 04.09.28

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We made much harder work of this game but did what we had to do in the end. Sancho scored the first after a James shot was parried to his feet and it took us until the last minute to make the result sure with Godfrey smashing home from a corner. Two out of two...

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We finish the break top of the group but on level points with clear competitors Belgium. We face them in our next game so there's all to play for!

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October 2028

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Here is the squad take 2. The big decision for me was to drop Jordan Pickford who has been dropped as Everton keeper and I felt like he couldn't keep his place in the squad while he wasn't playing a single minute. Dean Henderson who has got a few appearances for Southampton takes his spot. The other decison I made was to drop Mason Mount and called DCL into the squad. Will that work - we'll see!

 

Belgium v England, Nations' League A, 06.10.28

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If we were holding a 'get out of jail free card', we used it in the first half here! Belgium absolutely battered us and we came in reeling. I let the team know exactly what I thought of them and sent them back out with a flea in their ear. We took control in the second half and ended the game with the higher xG. No goal however meant that the points were shared.

Denmark v England, Nations' League A,

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We certainly could have done with some luck here as pretty much everything went against us. Their first goal was penalty, goal 2 a deep cross and then a corner left us in a mess at 3 - 0. We'd dominated the half though so I pushed on in the second to see what we could reclaim. We pushed on as the second half wore on - taking Kane off actually helped with Rashford smashing a beauty home and Alexander-Arnold striking after a superb Rashford set-up. We still came up one short though.

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The shock defeat in Denmark leaves us second in the group and three points behind Belgium. They did batter us in the game out there but we held on and have to do better at our own place. Before that, we have a friendly against Mexico to give us our first non-European opponents.

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November 2028

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So here is the November squad. Barnes and Yakubu have been brought in in order to let me have a look at future options for the LB spot. Chilwell is not getting any younger so I feel the need to have a look there. Hiard has also been playing well and I felt the need to give him the chance to play too.

England v Mexico, Friendly, 08.11.28

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Mexico caught us all out - smashing home a 25 yard screamer past Samuel in the goal. Foden floated a beauty of a free kick into the far post and Sancho snuck past everyone to smash it home. We played well, created more of the chances and had superb xG but didn't get the goals to show for it.

England v Belgium Nations' League A, 11.11.28

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I decided to strengthen the midfield for this game so brought in Garner who's a bit more of a tackler and it sure paid off! Greenwood scored after a fine move in the box involving both Foden and Rashford and that took us to 1-0 up at HT. The second half was dream stuff! Sancho went on a superb, Giggs-style  run and goal, Alexander-Arnold floated in a free-kick from which Godfrey peeled away from everyone to score a tight-corner finish and Garner scored after a superb run-and-cross from Bellingham.

England v Slovenia, Nations' League A, 14.11.28

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We knew that, provided we bettered their result, we would top Belgium in the group and go on to the semi-finals of the tournament. Another chance for that all-elusive silverware maybe? Slovenia proved a tough nut to crack though. Greenwood made a super run down the right and his cross was tucked home at the far post by Sancho and another superb run by Greenwood saw him hacked down and Rashford tucked away the resulting pen.

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Belgium drew their game so we win the group outright and go onto the semi-finals of the competition - can't say better than that. Slovenia managed a couple of draws but wasn't enough to save the from relegation. On to 2029...

 

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December 2028

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December saw the draw for the World Cup Qualifiers and this is what we've got. We'll be facing Sweden as our closest opposition with none of the other teams worrying me too much. The England-Scotland games will be great I'm sure too!

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With Scotland having come up in our World Cup Group, the Nations' League decided it had to top it by handing us Germany in the semis! Plenty of exciting games await!

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March 2029

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The squad has seen a few major changes since the one called together last year. Pickford has played a few games for Everton and, on that basis, replaces Dean Henderson. Likewise, Tony Thompson drops out and is replaced by Marcus Edwards who has been playing well in Portugal. Up front, Hiard drops out and is replaced by Spurs youngster Baxter. Finally, Baraza comes in to replace Yakubu and Declan Rice drops out in favour of the in-form Mason Mount.

England v Scotland, WCQ, 23.03.29

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World Cup qualification began against familiar foes Scotland. It was tough and they chased the game throughout. Mount took a place in lieu of the suspended Skipp. An own-goal gave us a first-half lead after a mazy Greenwood run and Brown smashed home a set-up by experienced Harry Kane.

Bosnia v England, WCQ, 26.03.29

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The game began on our terms with Foden whipping a corner into the mix and Sancho profiting. Despite dominating the first half, we went in only 1-0 up. Straight after HT, a desperate backline tackle fell to Rashford who smashed it home. Bosnia scored against the run of play through a long ball over the top where Gomez was beaten by his man. Rashford however restored our gap when Foden won the ball in the press and laid it off for Rasford to finish. Bosnia had another shock in the locker though with a superb cross and finish to make it 3-2. We held on though and got our second win.

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The two-win start leaves us top of the group and three points clear - although Sweden, our closest real opponent, have played a game fewer. It's as good a start as we could have had so let's keep going.

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Our next window sees us playing two pretty serious games. The pick has to be that game against Germany though. Can we beat them and get on into the UEFA Nations' League Final? Let's see!

Edited by RaySunshine
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June 2029

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After the squad did pretty well last time out, I didn't really feel the need to make many changes for this one. I'll keep looking at keepers and LBs but with just tournament football being played in this window, it didn't seem the time to be trying players out.

England v Germany, Nations' League Semi-Final, 30.05.29

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The game was pretty close for most of the first half. In the 39th minute, Sancho recycled a lost corner, played it out to Foden who's cross was smashed home by Greenwood. Just on the stroke of HT, we won a penalty and Sancho dispatched it. We took control throughout the second half but Germany had pinched a goal back to keep things tense. In the last few minutes, substitutes combined with Edwards sliding the ball through to the Spurs youngster Baxter for his first England goal and it sends us on our way to the final.

England v Italy, Nations' League Final, 03.06.29

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Well - how to describe this game? I thought we were doing well to be 2-0 up in 20 mins. They pulled one back in the second half but we extended our lead to 3-1. It wasn't enough though as Italy got two late goals to take it into extra time. We then got a fourth but that wasn't enough again as Italy got a fourth to equalise. Finally though, Greenwood completed his hattrick to give us the win and my first trophy of the save!

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Trophies always look nice so I felt the need to put this picture up! I didn't get the whole trophy-lifting cut scene so felt a bit robbed - this was the best I got!

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So next month we take on Holland in a friendly which will complete our 28/29 internationals. It will be the first without Pickford who has announced his intention to retire so one of the players I was looking at in the Championship may well be called up to international duties.

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June 2029 Part 2

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The squad shows very little change. Jordan Pickford has retired so West Ham keeper Malcom Small came in to replace him. There was a lot of flack in calling up a Championship player but, seeing as I already had the only two regular top-flight keepers, it seemed like the sensible choice. The other choice to be deemed controversial was that of Kane. As far as I'm concerned, he's still that player who could pop up and do something even if it's off the bench these days.

England v Holland, Friendly, 12.06.29

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Recognise this score from Wembley? Greenwood opened the scoring with tucking home a shot at the near post and this was followed up by captain Reece James smashing home a superb effort. Just on HT, we were sent into dreamland when Garner picked out James on the right-hand side and sent a superb cross in for Rashford to smash home. Rashford doubled up in the second half when Greenwood got the ball on the break and sent him through one-on-one to finish. In the second half, Holland gave us a proper run-around and sub keeper Small had to produce a string of high-class saves to keep the score what it was.

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So we don't play again until September to let the close season run its course. World Cup qualification resumes in September and we should get two wins. Given our recent run, I'm really looking forward to taking this lot to a tournament so let's make sure that we qualify!

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